Justice League Dark #21
“Love and Death… and the End of the World” review.
A review by Jake Morris.
Right away as you glance at the cover art for Justice League Dark #21, you get the sense of a weird, twisted DC romance book. Such books are always welcome as they allow a lot of build up in character dynamics between all of those involved and as you read through the opening pages, Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes and Mikel Janin do not disappoint in granting us a look into a dark future and a potential romance between two of the teams characters.
The issue, apart from the jump forward in time in those opening pages, starts out right where we left off. Dr. Destiny holds Swamp Thing captive while Constantine snaps out a few witty remarks as to the truth in Destiny’s mother revelation from the end of the previous issue. The back-and-forth between the three is handled incredibly quickly by Lemire and Fawkes and sets the issue on its way to concluding this mini-arc, which in turn allows for Frankenstein to go toe to toe with a demon and Deadman to play his part in the story. The action is brilliantly put together by Mikel Janin as his tight, cohesive page layout gives the sense of a real scrap between Frank and the demon. However it is not just in those pages that Janin shows real skill in his execution; quickly changing layouts to suit whichever character the story focuses on, and that is something to be admired considering the frantic nature of the issue.
Meanwhile, running alongside the teams events, The Flash (fans will be loving a double dose of him this week) cleans up the streets in speedy fashion and even combats a T-Rex. Lemire and Fawkes convey a much more serious Flash than was initially expected but the narration is hard to argue with and grants a sentimental moment where Barry displays how he has come to respect the team and his enjoyment of being alongside them. It is a great moment that allows a breather in between all of the action, right before cutting back to the mother and son conflict.
Speaking of which, Madame Xanadu really shines in issue 21. She has often been close to a damsel in distress character but her cuffs are off here and the writing mixed with the art exacerbates the emotions she is going through. Credit should be given to how Lemire and Fawkes give each character a notable role in the issue, further cementing how the team has grown since Jeff Lemire took over. Swamp Thing unleashes havoc upon the house and Deadman gets a cool new ability in the shape of house possession. The idea is a rather smart move and something a lot of readers overlooked, I’m sure. Deadman has always been around but sometimes lacking in the action department but in this issue he is handed his moment to shine, bookended by a romantic link to Xanadu which hopefully readers really get behind and demand more of.
Overall, the issue is a strong release and gives readers both character development and action. The Flash’s inclusion has been a welcome one and executed mightily. I for one would love to see his friendship with Frankenstein explored further in the future as those have been standout panels but one must also wonder if he was only added to the story due to the upcoming Trinity War. It seems DC may be making a late swoop for character dilemmas when they all go to crossover begins.
The issue does however leave us with one less team member for JLD, though whether that member still has a role to play in Trinity War, is something we will have to wait and see.
Writers: Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes
Artist: Mikel Janin
Finishes (p. 11-20): Vicente Cifuentes
Colourist: Jeremy Cox
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Art: Mikel Janin